Hunger-striking journalist held in isolation by Israel

Palestinians take part in a weekly sit-in outside of the Gaza City offices of the Red Cross on 21 September.

Mohammed Asad APA images

Several Palestinian detainees on hunger strike in Israeli prison remain in solitary confinement, the Palestinian Authority committee on prisoners’ affairs announced over the weekend.

One of the strikers, Nidal Abu Aker, told a lawyer with the prisoner advocacy group Addameer that there are no negotiations underway to end the protest, the organization said on Monday.

The prisoners’ affairs committee said on Saturday that there were seven Palestinians entering their second month of hunger strike to protest their confinement without charge or trial, a practice known as administrative detention.

Administrative detention orders are handed down by an Israeli military court judge. They usually last up to six months but are indefinitely renewable. Thousands of Palestinians have been held by Israel under administrative detention.

Journalist held without charge

Abu Aker, whose hands and legs were bound during the lawyer’s visit, said that he continues to be held in a narrow cell and that he is not consuming anything besides water.

The Israeli prison authorities offer him food on a daily basis to try to break his strike, he said. Yet they delay in bringing him water, which he has to request because the tap in his cell is too low to allow him to refill his bottle.

Abu Aker is refusing all medical tests and has stopped taking medication even though he is suffering from head pain, dizziness and a severe sore throat, among other health problems.

He called for the launch of a national campaign to end administrative detention and for international supervision of Israeli military courts.

Abu Aker is a journalist from Dheisheh refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem and is host of a radio program dedicated to Palestinian prisoners, according to Addameer.

The father of three was arrested in June 2014 during a dawn raid on his family’s home during which Abu Aker’s adult son, asleep at the time, was attacked by one of the soldiers who had forced their way into the home.

Abu Aker was arrested as part of Israel’s campaign of collective punishment following the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youths in the West Bank.

He has spent more than 14 years in Israeli prison since his first arrest as a child for throwing stones in 1984, says Addameer.

Hunger strikes

Several Palestinian prisoners, many of them administrative detainees, have recently embarked on prolonged hunger strikes in Israeli prison.

The most high-profile among them, Khader Adnan, won his release after a 55-day hunger strike earlier this year and a 66-day strike in 2012.

Muhammad Allan, who nearly died in August during a strike lasting 64 days, resumed his protest last Wednesday following his arrest at an Israeli hospital where he was being held shortly after its director signed his release papers.

Israel was holding 350 Palestinians in administrative detention at the end of August, according to Addameer.

There were more than 5,500 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel in August.


Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.